Signing of "An Act"MSU Denver acquired its own governing board on July 1, following the passage of HB02-1165. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nolbert Chavez and Sen. Penfield Tate, separated it from the State Colleges in Colorado board of trustees that governs Mesa State, Adams State and Western State.

Bruce Benson, CEO of Benson Mineral Group, Inc., was appointed chair of MSU Denver’s new nine-member board of trustees — composed of seven community leaders plus a non-voting faculty member and student.

“It’s a tangible symbol of the recognition and respect state leaders have for [MSU Denver’s] mission as an urban institution whose focus is excellence in teaching and learning,” said President Sheila Kaplan, adding that the board would increase the then-college’s visibility, feeding into its positive momentum of record enrollments and graduates, national basketball championships and national ranking as a best value in higher education.

MSU Denver Foundation board member Larry Strutton (B.S. marketing ’71), former publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, said that the school was now a full-fledged player at the table when public higher-education policy was being discussed. “The board’s focus is not divided between being an advocate for a large urban institution and three small, rural colleges, as it was before,” he explained.

A broad coalition of alumni, students, faculty and foundation members helped lobby for MSU Denver’s independence with the Alumni Action Task Force, headed by Alumni Association President Carol Nesland (B.S. finance ’91), who played the biggest role. It was signed into law by the 40th governor of Colorado, Bill Owens.